What to do in Ohio during a Traffic Stop

If you carry often (which you should) you will eventually find yourself being pulled over for one reason or another.  Maybe you’re pushing the speed limit a little bit too much, you didn’t make a complete stop, or your tail light is burned out.  Eventually everyone gets pulled over for something and if you are carrying it’s important you know how to handle the situation.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s guide:

Traffic Stops and Other Law Enforcement Encounters (pg 12)
If a person is stopped for a law enforcement purpose and is carrying a concealed handgun as a CCW licensee, whether in a motor vehicle or not, he shall promptly inform the law enforcement officer that he is carrying a concealed handgun. If in a vehicle, the licensee shall remain in the vehicle and keep his hands in plain sight at all times. Violating this section of law is a first-degree misdemeanor, and in addition to any other penalty handed down by a court, may result in the suspension of the person’s concealed handgun license for one year. A permit holder is not required to inform law enforcement of his status if he is not carrying a firearm.

If a person is stopped for a law enforcement purpose and is carrying
a concealed handgun as a CCW licensee, whether in a motor
vehicle or not, he shall not have or attempt to have any contact with
the handgun, unless in accordance with directions given by a law
enforcement officer. Violating this law is a felony and may also
result in permanent loss of the person’s concealed
handgun license.

Now that we know what the AG wants us to know let’s look at the steps to go through

  1. Put your turn signal on, slow down, and pull over in a safe area as soon as possible.  They may be trying to pass you or you might be the one they are after.  Never the less by turning on your turn signal and slowing down you are acknowledging them and that you are trying to pull over.  Depending on traffic this could be immediately or you may have to get to a safe location.
  2. Once you pull over and are stopped put your hazards on.  You are on the side of the road and you want other traffic to see that you are stopped.
  3. Wait in your car with your hands on the steering wheel and turn on the dome light and for the officer to approach.  Don’t go grabbing for ANYTHING.  License, insurance card, or registration.  From behind the officer has no idea what you are doing.  Having a light on and hands on the wheel allows the officer to see that you are not a threat.NOTE:  NO MATTER HOW INNOCENT YOU FEEL YOU ARE OR HOW MANY YOUTUBE VIDEOS YOU HAVE WATCHED ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS, THERE’S NO WAY TO WIN ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!! WAIT FOR COURT, FILE A COMPLAINT, GET A REAL LAWYER.  Remember the police officer is doing his job the way his way told to do it and it’s unlikely he’s going to find what you tell him is going to change his way.
  4. After the officer comes to your window roll it down and inform him that you and/or other people in your car are carrying and where the firearms are at (note: tell them you have a firearm since the word ‘gun’ can be a trigger word when two officers are involved in the stop).  Proactively telling the officer also shows that you are cooperating and following the law and might get you off with a warning.
  5. Remember to comply with what the officer asks you to do but repeat what you heard the officer say so they know what you are doing.  If there are multiple officers this helps everyone to know what is going on and if there’s a lot of road noise it also prevents you from not understanding what the officer wants you to do.
  6. When carrying we suggest keeping your license, insurance, and registration information away from your firearm so that reaching for any of them doesn’t look like you are reaching for a firearm.
    – If the officer wants to hold your firearm during the traffic stop allow them to retrieve it from your holster.  This may involve them having you to stop out of the car and potentially being put in hand cuffs.  No matter how innocent you feel or how violated your rights feels you aren’t going to win on the side of the road.
    – Under Ohio State code you have to comply with all directions from a law enforcement officer but remember to repeat them back so there’s no miscommunication.
  7. At the end of the stop if you are not comfortable with the officer handing your firearm back directly to you ask them to put it in a back seat or on the passenger seat.   Once they go back to their cruiser you can re-holster your firearm.  Remember “comply don’t die”.
  8. If you feel that your stop was a violation of your rights or the law take the time to file a written complaint with the police department, county prosecutor, or state attorney general.  They have the teeth to investigate and determine if any laws or policies where broken during stop.  If you really did break the law own up to it and pay the fine.  It happens to everyone sooner or later.

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